MANHATTAN (CN) — Throughout the seven-day civil rape trial against Donald Trump, jurors heard witness after witness testify on behalf of E. Jean Carroll, the writer who says Trump raped her in 1996 in a fitting room at the famed Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City.
Carroll spent three days on the stand, one of 11 witnesses. Trump did not testify nor put on any defense case, even after the judge gave him a special allowance to do so, should he have a last-minute change of heart about testifying.
During his closing argument on Monday, the former president’s attorney explained that the lack of a showing was because Carroll's accusation is made up, and one can’t prove the negative.
“There are no witnesses for us to call,” Joseph Tacopina said, “because he wasn’t there. It didn’t happen.”
Carroll remembers the timing as spring of 1996, and believes the alleged assault happened on a Thursday since Bergdorf’s stays open later that day. But those details are too vague for Trump to use to present an alibi witness, Tacopina argued.
“With no date, no month, no year, can’t present an alibi,” Tacopina said.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan argued that Trump told on himself in two ways. First, despite calling Carroll “not my type” when denying that the two had ever met, Trump mistook her for his ex-wife Marla Maples during his deposition when shown a photo of himself and Carroll meeting.
“E. Jean Carroll, a former cheerleader and Miss Indiana, was exactly Donald Trump’s type,” Kaplan said.
Second, Kaplan noted, the three women who accused Trump of sexual assault — Carroll, a retired businesswoman named Jessica Leeds, and journalist Natasha Stoynoff, who used to work the “Trump beat” at People magazine — outlined a pattern of Trump initiating friendly chatter then suddenly and aggressively kissing them. That lines up with his words in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape shown several times to jurors.
“I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you've a star they let you do it,” Trump says in the hot-mic tape, which surfaced in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
“You can do anything,” he continues. “Grab them by the pussy.”
Attorneys for Carroll, who says Trump forced his fingers, then his penis, inside her, said that video is a confession.
“He pushed her up against a wall and he started kissing her. He didn’t wait,” said Kapla, of the firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink. “He grabbed her, using his words, by the pussy.”
When asked about his comments on the tape, as seen in the deposition recording that Carroll’s attorneys publicly released on Friday, Trump doubled down.
“Well historically that's true with stars,” Trump says in the video. “If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
The attorney seized on those words in her summation.
“Unfortunately or fortunately? He actually said the word 'fortunately' to describe stars grabbing women. Let that sink in for a minute,” Kaplan said. “Who would say 'fortunately' to describe the act of sexual assault?”
While Carroll did not share her story publicly until 2019, when she detailed it in her book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal,” she says she told two friends at the time of the alleged rape. They both testified and backed up her story.
Fellow writer Lisa Birnbach said Carroll called her, still “breathless, hyperventilating, emotional,” minutes after having rushed out of the department store to get away from Trump. Birnbach remembered that she was feeding her kids when she took the call, and how she urged Carroll to go to the police. Carroll refused.